How to Conquer Brain and Memory Problems with Diet! This new year work on improving your health including your brain and memory function. There should be no excuses. Without great memory function, you can not perform your job or be effective at home with your children and family. You cannot be independent without good memory function. Don’t think you need to worry? Look at the stats below.
Here are some stats that should shake you up below:
- There are 10.7% or 6.5 million Americans (65 and over) living with Alzheimer’s in 2022 .
- Every 65 seconds, one person in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease .
- The number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease can increase to 13.8 million by 2060 .
- 4 million women (12%) and 2.5 million men (9%) have Alzheimer’s disease .
- 72.9% (4.72 million) of the total Alzheimer’s cases in the US are people aged 75 and above .
- California has the highest number of Alzheimer’s cases, with 690,000. The state also has the highest number of Alzheimer’s deaths, with 18,775 in 2020  .
- Alzheimer’s disease is highest among Black Americans at 19% .
- Black Americans have a 1.5 to 2 times higher risk of Alzheimer’s, compared to White Americans .
- Life expectancy after Alzheimer’s diagnosis ranges from 3 to 11 years, with a median survival time of 8.3 years  .
- COVID-19 infection increases Alzheimer’s risk by 50% to 80%, especially in people aged 65 and older .
- 82,965 people die from Alzheimer’s and its complications each year .
- 12% to as high as 70% of dementia patients die from pneumonia .
- The cost of Alzheimer’s disease in the US will amount to $321 billion by the end of 2022 .”
Even in people who are from age 30 to 60, the numbers are rising as well.
According to experts, there are more than 28,650 people with younger onset dementia in 2023. This number is expected to rise to more than 42,400 people by 2058. This figure means that people from ages 30 to 64 are developing dementia at a rising rate too. This is sad and tragic. Diet issues, lack of exercise, spending hours on FB, and hours with ear plugs zoning out on life is not helping you or your brain.
How to Conquer Brain and Memory Problems with Diet
Now that you know why you should work on improving your memory and brain health, what can you do?
I have met people in their 90s with excellent memories but more who were deep into Alzheimer’s with severe loss of brain and memory function. What makes the difference?
There are several important areas of concern we will be talking about in the coming weeks: diet, exercise, stress, obesity, falls, concussions, chemicals, and Chronic Lyme Disease which are all part of why we lose brain and memory function. In brain and memory health, diet is one of the first problems to address.
We live in one of the richest countries in the world, but obesity, high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes are rampant and rising. A majority of our population and our children have terrible eating habits.
My husband and I have been to several church functions lately where we got to observe people’s behavior. The main dishes were things like chili or stews but many people ate only a few bites of that and gravitated to the dessert table. They ate all of the desserts and went back for more. Most of these people were severely overweight or morbidly overweight. Our pastor nearly died of a heart attack a few years prior, is diabetic, and is a big guy who likes to eat hamburgers and other high-calorie foods. Our local donut shop is very popular. It’s a small town with little for entertainment so people eat out a lot! People walk out with boxes of donuts for their office staff. There is so much bad fat in these foods along with calories and loaded with sugar.
When we go to Walmart, I often watch what goes into people’s grocery carts. It floors me how little real food ends up in their carts. It is not that we are poor in this country but choose poor-quality foods!
You have to be responsible for the food you put into your shopping cart and in your mouth! No one can stop you from putting junk food in your cart. You have to make those decisions daily!
How do I stop choosing those memory-damaging foods? Love your brain! What does that mean?
You must put your brain health first.
Ask yourself is this food going to help my brain to be healthy?
Do I want to continue this path to brain and memory destruction?
Do I want to end up with Alzheimer’s later on?
If I am having problems with memory now, do I want to continue on this path?
LOVE Your Brain!
Your brain contains 60 percent fatty acids called phospholipids. You have billions of brain cells that are protected by a fatty compound which is the cell membrane. Your cell membrane is made up of 85% fatty compounds. Healthy fat feeds your brain. Brain cells need healthy fatty foods to work well.
Low-fat diets do not help brain health. It has been shown in research that your brain needs fat to be healthy – but from the right sources.
1st Step Cut out Bad Fats!
Bad memory and brain foods include margarine, french fries, and deep-fried foods like fried chicken. That 3 layer cheeseburger with french fries is not only clogging up your heart arteries but also hurting your brain and memory function. Bad fats are also in sugary foods as well as white bread. Bad foods include pre-packaged foods, junk cereal, chips, and most things that come in cans such as canned soups. The cheap cooking oil you buy is hurting your heart and brain function. Margarine is made from the worst oils for your brain health. Transfats clog up your cells so they cannot function properly. Bad fats cause high blood pressure and other heart problems.
Replace bad fats with healthy fat choices!
Good fats include cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, walnuts, avocados, canned Salmon, and Tuna. It has been shown in research that the Mediterranean Diet is by far the best diet to follow for brain and memory health. Those who follow this diet lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by 68 percent.
Step #2 Cut out soda, even sugar-free soda!
Soda is one of the worst addictions in this country. You see cases of it in people’s carts. I never was a fan, even as a kid. We had no soda in our household. My parents drank coffee or iced tea. The iced tea wasn’t a good choice but better than soda. My mom did not add sugar to her coffee or to her iced tea. We drank water for the most part or milk.
“Soda consumption in the United States reached 40.4 gallons per person in 2021. For the 15th year in a row, soda consumption in the country has declined. Since 2006, when 45.8 gallons of soda were consumed per person, total consumption declined by 11% in 2021.” https://www.soocial.com/soda-consumption-statistics/
In a 2007 study, rats fed the equivalent of 5 sodas a day with an otherwise normal diet, had poor learning and memory retention. Their brains contained twice the amyloid plaques over mice not fed the soda. Rats have a higher metabolism than their human counterparts. The researchers stated that because of that difference in metabolism, it would take less soda consumption in humans to reach the same effects in the brain.
Step # 3 Cut Out Sugar and the foods that contain it!
Sugar in your diet dramatically raises your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Soda is one of the biggest culprits. Pepsi and Coke are making your brain sick and making billions while you get sicker. You are willingly making yourself sick. Sugar is just as addicting as drugs according to research. Experiments with rats show that rats will choose sugar foods over their healthy rat diet. Even though, there is so much information out there about the destruction that sugar causes, we continue to go down that cookie aisle.
A study from the Taub Institute of Alzheimer’s and the Aging Brain found that high levels of insulin, as in diabetics, the higher the risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Step # 4 Cut out, Artificial sweeteners! They are bad for your brain and memory as well.
Artificial sweeteners are linked to blood clots and heart attacks!
Step #5 How do you cut out sugar and sodas? First, love yourself and your brain!
Approved sweeteners including stevia and monk fruit are not damaging to brain health.
Buy these sweeteners without the erythritol included. It is now being shown that erythritol may damage the heart and other organs over time. Recent article on artificial sweeteners and erythritol
Here is a link to Monk Fruit without erythritol. It is more expensive but it is pure. This is not an affiliate link. Read the product descriptions carefully or you will end up with a product containing erythritol. We have so many chemicals we inject through the air and water without control. We need to work on picking foods that have the least additives and fake ingredients, colors, and preservatives.
Step #6 Cut down your alcohol consumption
If you are drinking more than 14 drinks per week, you need to cut it down. Excessive alcohol is not good for the brain or your body. If you are going to improve how your brain works then this is a must-do for this year. If you are a woman, it is even more important. Women and their hormones are greatly affected by alcohol more so than men. The risks of overdrinking are mouth cancer, liver damage, heart damage, and memory decline. Alcohol consumption adds a lot of calories you don’t need so if weight is an issue, especially stomach fat then cut down on the drinking. I am alcohol intolerant so I have a different view on the drinking issue but am going with what doctors generally advise on this issue. If you have to have two drinks per night to cope with life, then you need to work on coping in a different way such as exercise or a hobby that keeps both the mind and body moving and learning.
Improving your memory is one decision at a time.
One day, one step at a time. If you eat ice cream every day, decide to eat it every other day, then every three days, then just once a week as a treat. Eventually, your craving for those foods decreases until you don’t even want them. I once loved chocolate and ate it every day. Unfortunately, it is not good for my dental health. I needed to give it up. It was not easy. Months down the road, it isn’t an issue anymore.
Gradually cut back on your binge food choices!
If it is soda, cut back your soda intake gradually over a month. If you drink three sodas a day, go down to two, then go down to one, and then eventually none. No soda is good. Soda is a bad choice in all respects. My husband when I met him was a soda addict. Now he has one once or twice a year. He used to be a binge eater. If we had cookies in the house, he would binge eat them. He no longer has that problem. It took him a long time to get to that point.
Do I have to cut out chocolate?
There are different schools of thought on this point. How much chocolate do you eat? How often do you eat it? In what form do you eat it? Chocolate for many women is their joy in life. Dark chocolate is better for you. Eating a chocolate donut is bad in every respect or a chocolate eclair. When I cut out chocolate, I did it over time. For a long time, I would eat a square a day of dark chocolate. Then over time, I just didn’t want it anymore. I can watch others eat a decadent piece of pie and not want it. In fact, at this point, it repels me. That took a couple of years to get to that point. Chocolate for me made my scalp itch and flared up jaw infections. I needed to give it up on several levels. I would say if you cut out all the rest of the junk food and sugar, eating a square of dark chocolate is not so bad.
Erythritol is not a good sugar substitute.
Most sugar-free chocolate contains erythritol. If you eat a lot of chocolate, that is an issue. Research is now finding that Erythritol stays in the blood stream for several days after drinking sodas. This sugar is not good for your blood sugar or your heart in the long run.
Sugar Names on product labels.
There are 20 different names for sugar and are listed in the ingredient labels: dextrose, fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin, agave, brown rice syrup, molasses, caramel, beet sugar, brown sugar, sorghum syrup, high fructose, corn syrup, fruit juice, coconut sugar, date sugar, ethyl maltrol, dextrin, maltose, barley malt, and cane sugar. High fructose and corn syrup are in the majority of the foods you buy already packaged.
Bake your own goodies is the best way to cut out the bad stuff!
There are several chocolate bars that contain coconut sugar instead but very expensive. You can make your own chocolate pudding and use monk fruit without the erythritol. Make your own keto cookies with monk fruit. I personally am not fond of the aftertaste of Stevia. When I make oatmeal, I just put a tsp of pure maple syrup in it or bananas. In our house, there are no chips, no junk food, or sugary stuff. Fruit like blueberries which are good for your brain can add the sweetness you are craving. You can make blueberry muffins with almond flour or other types of flour. It is far better to bake your own treats than buy them. There are so many recipes out there for keto treats. At this point, I eat little sugar but if I really want something, I make mine from scratch.
Concentrate on that 75% not the 25% of your food choices.
It is what you eat 75% of the time that is important. If you occasionally treat yourself, it does not make a huge difference. If that one treat, starts you back to binge eating, then you need to just be strict with those thoughts and cravings.
Emotional Eating leads to obesity and sickness!
A caution is issued here. For many women, once you eat one square, then the whole bar disappears over the day. One piece of chocolate out of that box leads to half a box gone. One scoop of ice cream leads to the whole carton becoming empty. Eating out of emotional issues is bad, just like drinking is. It is like closet drinking. You tell yourself, one drink doesn’t matter but one drink leads to two, then three.
How to Avoid Emotional Eating:
When you are drawn to eat emotionally, distract yourself by going for a walk or going outside. You need to get out of the kitchen. Put any snack on a high shelf where it requires you to bring in a step stool to get it down. Put the snack in the basement or another area that is hard to get to. One year at Christmas I put some cookies away on a high shelf. We didn’t think about them until we were moving a year later.
Suggested activities to calm emotional eating.
Instead of eating, listen to some calming music, call an emotionally supportive friend, involve yourself in a task where you have to give it your full attention, read a book, or vacuum.
It may help you to write down what is bothering you or worrying you when you feel the need to eat. Try journaling your feelings!
Have you been mentally or physically abused, either as a child or now?
Many women who eat emotionally are experiencing either spousal abuse or were abused when they were children. If your eating stems from abuse, you need to talk with a counselor to help you deal with all the pain you carry deep inside. Perhaps you need to make some hard decisions about your life situation. I remember a great chiropractor who was obese. She admitted to me she ate so she would not be attractive to men. Emotional eating is so damaging to both your mental and physical health.
Self-care is important! Learn to LOVE yourself….your reflection in the mirror!
Make YOU a priority! Make your health a priority! Make a list of why you want to eat more healthily. Do I want to play with my kids more? Do I want to live to see my children grow up? What example am I setting for my kids? How would my life improve if I chose healthy foods over junk foods? How would my health improve?
What is important to you?
Is that chocolate bar more important than your brain function in the future or even in your present state of brain health?
Take One Step this week to improve your health!
This week begin to replace bad foods with good foods. When shopping, buy olive oil instead of Crisco or some other cheap oil. Instead of frying that chicken, bake it. Make an effort to avoid the cookie shelves in the store—one step at a time this week. Cut down on your cookie or snack consumption….one cookie at a time…one snack at a time.
One step leads to another on improving your health and brain function. The next article will focus on foods and herbs that improve memory function.
Cathryn Freer, the Herbladyisin